When I asked about the event being held jointly by the Seattle Sounders and Tacoma Rainiers today, all I was told that, “all your questions would be answered.” There are still a few things left to be sorted out, but suffice it to say, today’s announcement was big.
Wednesday afternoon at the Summit club at Cheney Stadium, the Sounders and Rainiers announced a partnership which included the long-awaited rebrand of the Sounders 2, the USL developmental side which until last year played at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila. Going forward, the Sounders 2 will be rebranded as Tacoma Defiance. Included in that are a new badge and colors.
What’s more, in a surprise, the Seattle Reign will be moving–effective immediately–to Cheney Stadium. The Reign’s current home–Memorial Stadium–is, to put it bluntly, decrepit and barely safe for habitation. It appears the Reign explored every option to keep the team in Seattle proper, but either the options were cost prohibitive (Century Link) or otherwise didn’t comply with U.S. Soccer’s professional league standards.
With three teams now playing in Cheney Stadium, it will likely provide an added incentive to get a stadium built ASAP. The good news on that front is that the Sounders, Rainiers and the City of Tacoma are moving towards that goal. They’ve identified some land, and are going through the governmental processes to get that done. It looks like they’re moving on to the public comment phase, so we’ll see what the public has to say about it.
Update: I asked about the process going forward: They’re in the final stages of the “feasibility study.” Essentially, this is the process by which they’ll see if the financials work. Since we’re talking about “public-private” partnerships, that means taxpayer money, and that always gets tricky. Assuming it goes well, the target date for opening the new stadium is 2021.
This series of announcements essentially completes the “business phase” of the Sounders’ plans for the South Sound. With a promising group of young players set to play in 2019, Tacoma will be home to the next generation of Sounders.